Patriots look to be more physical
Patriots’ coach Steve LaPrad says he wants to return to doing some of the things that have worked well for his team in the past.
Fort Dorchester is coming off a 7-5 season and while technically that’s a winning season the coach says his staff doesn’t view it that way.
“We are trying to be a lot more physical,” LaPrad said. “Four or five years ago defensively we were extremely physical and we want to get back to that. Also we are trying to have more of a running attack, but we still have the ability to throw the ball. We are inexperienced, but we have a great group of young athletes so hopefully as they grow up we can have some success.”
The Patriots ran a wide-open offense in 2011 but LaPrad says a run-heavy offense fits this year’s personnel better.
The Fort returns six offensive starters, including its top two rushers from last season. Seniors Charles Loftland and Daitwan Commodore return after combining for nearly 1,600 rushing yards and eight touchdowns last season. Junior running back Matt Murray will see also see a lot of action.
“We feel real good about our running backs,” LaPrad said. “Our top three found the end zone frequently in our scrimmages.”
The Patriots also return their leading receiver, senior T.J. Smith. He made 61 receptions last season for 939 yards and nine TDs.
“We’ve had receivers who were bigger and had success, but I don’t think we have had one who is better than T.J.,” LaPrad said. “He has sub-4.5 speed, is an excellent route runner and his work ethic is off the chart.”
Ironically, the year the Pats chose to focus more on the run, they had one of their best 7-on-7 seasons this summer. A large part of that was first-year starting QB Baptiste Staggers, who poses a dual threat. Backup QB Colby Garret also had a good summer.
Some of their other targets include Tevin Morris, Rashad Palmer and Corey Rawlings.
William Alston (6-1 235), Nick Tononi (5-11, 240) and TE Michael Spellman (6-1, 200) return to anchor the offensive line.
“Last year we pretty much had a revolving door on our offensive line, which is good this year because we have several lineman back with some varsity experience,” LaPrad said. “Considering that, we are probably more experienced on the offensive line than we normally are.”
Terrance Bryant (6-2, 266), Jackson Varner (6-0, 235), Cody Meree (6-2, 230) and Tyese McDonald (5-11, 309) are among the other linemen returning with some varsity experience.
The Patriot defense had a starting linebacker and lineman move this summer so it only returns five starters. That includes defensive back Bryce Tapscott, who is injured and won’t likely return to action until October. With 111 tackles in 2011, he is the team’s top returning tackler.
In the meantime, returning DB Josh Lightburn (84 tackles) and linebackers David Govan (40 tackles) and Kevyn Flores (40 tackles) will anchor the D.
Nose Guard Roderick Davis (6-1, 330) returns up front and will be joined by Josh Hamilton (5-11, 215), who is moving to defensive end after starting at linebacker last season.
Spellman will see time on the defensive line and Robert Magwood (6-0, 210) also brings experience up front.
Eurndraus Bryant is young but if he develops the way LaPrad hopes, the sophomore could make a huge impact, pun intended. The 6-2, 360-pound lineman just turned 15 and squats 550 pounds. LaPrad says he is very quick for his size.
The Pats have to replace their punter and kicker. Luke Philyaw and Christian Baker are in the lead for the kicker position and Rawlings will start the season as the team’s new punter.
The team has a host of players capable of making big returns, most notably TJ Smith, Rashad Smith, Kenny Fenton-Griffith and Loftland.
Contact Roger Lee @ 873-9424 ext. 213 or firstname.lastname@example.org